If former Michigan basketball star Jalen Rose was on the search committee for the program’s next head coach, he already knows whom he’d hire.
And it’s not just because Rose and Howard were members of the famed Fab Five and played together for three seasons. It’s because Rose said Howard’s resume makes him a viable and worthy choice to replace former coach John Beilein.
"Now that there's a vacant job in Ann Arbor, let's do a blank canvas of actually who should be the No. 1 candidate, and to me that should be a no-brainer," Rose said Friday on ESPN's “Get Up!” show. “There's a guy named Juwan Howard that's from Chicago, which means he's going to be able to help recruit that market. Not only was he an All-American in high school, came to the University of Michigan, was a member of the Fab Five, he was the first person to sign their Letter of Intent. In theory, he also helped recruit each one of us.
"And for those that don't know, he was always the adult in the room amongst us. You never saw Juwan Howard without a haircut, you've never seen him without a crease in his pants, you've never seen him undisciplined. And he was a technician out on the floor.”
Howard, 46, played at Michigan from 1991-94 and was part of the prized quintet — Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Rose — that led the Wolverines to back-to-back national title games. He went on to a successful 19-year career in the NBA and won two titles in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat before he became an assistant coach with Miami in 2014.
Although Howard has never coached college basketball, he was head coach of Miami's 2016 Summer League teams in Orlando and Las Vegas and has spent time helping develop Heat big men Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo.
Howard has also reportedly interviewed for coaching vacancies with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves this spring.
“He's earning his chops under a championship coach like Erik Spoelstra, an organization like the Miami Heat and the tutelage and validity of Pat Riley,” Rose said. “This is just a legit thing of somebody that happens to be in the pipeline and Michigan has a head coaching vacancy. He would be the perfect person to help embody what it took to be culturally relevant because he helped poise the culture.”
Rose continued his public endorsement by imploring Michigan to act with the same sense of urgency it did when football coach Jim Harbaugh was lured from the NFL and hired in 2015.
Howard told ESPN on Friday he has spoken with representatives of Turnkey Sports, the firm Michigan is working with during its coaching search. It's the same search firm that assisted Michigan when it hired athletic director Warde Manuel in 2016.
“For a guy like Juwan,” Rose said, “who now all of a sudden finds himself, ‘Should I take a pro job? Should I take a college job?’ I saw how the University of Michigan went after Jim Harbaugh. When they really wanted him, they went and got him.
“I think that should be the exact same thing with Juwan — you’ve got to go get him.”
Rose isn’t the only one who thinks Howard is one of the first people Manuel should call. ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg listed Howard among his top candidates to succeed Beilein.
“It's different hiring Juwan Howard than say hiring Chris Mullin. Juwan Howard is a professional coach, that's what he does. He's approached it from that,” Greenberg told The Detroit News earlier this week. “It's not a guy that all of a sudden, ‘Well, the Michigan job opened up I want to coach.’ There are a lot of former players when jobs open up at their alma maters they want to coach. Well, you know what? You're not prepared for the position. I think Juwan would be.
“His son (Jace) is a high-level recruit and plays on a high-level high school team. He understands the recruiting process. Whether he'd be interested or not, I don't know. I'm not saying he's the guy, but he's a guy you definitely have to speak to. He's a make-sense guy.”
With Beilein putting Michigan basketball back on the map with nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two trips to the national title game and a list of NBA Draft picks during his 12 years at the helm, Howard would undoubtedly have big shoes to fill.
However, Rose sees Howard as an upgrade over Beilein in one area.
"The one thing (Beilein) did not do, and it was a different style of recruiting, is recruit McDonald's All-Americans," Rose said. "In his entire tenure there, we had a grand total of zero get recruited to the University of Michigan. I think Juwan Howard is the guy that could bring that back. He would be a terrific head coach. He would be terrific at developing young talent. He wouldn't take no mess off of the players. He would own the Michigan market.”
Rose said if Michigan hired Howard, it would also help “bury the hatchet” with the university embracing the history of the Fab Five, and it would lead to a “tsunami” of former players coming back on campus.
“That would be an amazing domino for somebody that truly deserves it,” Rose said. “Juwan Howard has coached Summer League. He has earned his dues. He sat behind the bench. He sat on the bench.
“This is an amazing opportunity for them to get a young, terrific head coaching candidate who just so happens to be a former member of the Fab Five that played in Ann Arbor.”